Our premise would be the INC’s concept of monotheism that when it say: Beside me, there is no god, speaks a clear invocation of monotheism and that in general terms, universal and a prescription for all mankind.
Lets check the reference point for such concept:
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
First, let me establish that these words are prescriptive only for mosaic Israel as it say:
Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
Moreover, during those time, israel was the only nation with a true god:
2 Kings 5:15
And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
Therefore, when it say “beside me there is no god” was logically for that only nation with a true god–israel therefore prescriptive only for them.
Therefore when it say:
Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any
It should have been emphasized as a prescriptive truth only for mosaic israel in terms of recognition for worship, that for mosaic israel there is no god beside god almighty they should recognize neither god knew any for them to worship. It should have been this way:
Is there a God beside me for israel? yea, there is no God; I know not any for israel to worship…
Did god lie therefore when he said, there is no god beside him, when fact is jesus is too a true god?
No. Its not a lie to prescribed himself only for israel to recognize as their only god for worship. It doesnt mean, he is the only true god. He only prescribed himself as their sole god to recognize for worship being the supreme authority. Its like this: though jesus and i are true god, you only have to recognize me as your god to worship. It doesnt mean, he is the only god bec even jesus is too a true god. And never did he prescribe jesus to be their god.
JOHN 1:18 no man hath seen god at anytime, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN GOD which was in the bosom of the father…
A site has this to say:
EARLY MSS ATTEST ITS VERACITY
μονογενὴς Θεὸς is represented in a great number of the earliest MSS, is prominent in the MSS that are considered to contain accurate texts, and is most probably what John actually wrote.
The following manuscripts support theos. This list conflates the evidence of those MSS which have an article (ho) and those without it (the latter is the text of Nestle-Aland):
- Greek witnesses
- Papyrus 66 [Papyrus Bodmer II] A.D. c. 200 (Martin), A.D. 100-150 (Hunger)
- Papyrus 75 (A.D. 175-225)
- Codex א – Sinaiticus (c. 330–360)
- Codex B – Vaticanus (c. 325–350)
- Codex C* – Eprhraemi Rescriptus (5th C.)
- Apostolic Constitutions (A.D. 375 -380)
- Codex L – Regius (A.D 701-800)
- non-Greek witnesses
- Bohairic Coptic [Codex Bodmer III] (A.D. 300)
- Diatessaron (“Out of Four”) of Titan the Syrian [Arabic version] (c. 160-175)
- Syriac Peshitta (A.D 150)
- Adysh manuscript (A.D 897)-Gregordian-Georgian/Iberian version
- Opiza manuscript (A.D 913)
- Tbet’ manuscript (A.D 995)
- Late Greek
Irenaeus’ (A.D. 130-202) ‘unigenitus deus’ in his Against Heresies IV, 20, 11 is probably a John 1:18 quotation from an Old Latin MSS.
The Coptic versions is one of the earliest versions of the NT where huios is completely absent.
… At the risk of sounding repetitive, θεός shows up again outside the Alexandrian tradition (e.g., early Latin Fathers in the Gospels are Western witnesses)76 with relatively strong textual weight (per Ehrman’s argument). (ibid.)
In sum, externally, both readings enjoy wide geographical distribution, even though υἱός is relatively stronger in non-Alexandrian forms of text. Both readings co-existed in the second century, although weightier MSS support θεός. As a whole, then, I believe θεός is more probable due to the quality, antiquity, and transmissional history of the witnesses listed above. (ibid.)
In retrospect, I conclude that μονογενὴς θεός is the best reading given all the evidence we have internally and externally. As a result, it is highly probable that the text of John 1.18 calls Jesus θεός. (ibid.)
But how about it when they said, there is only one true god quoting:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
The thing is, nothing is concrete with this verse as nowhere did it confirm an only true god of the whole universe, and having John proclaimed jesus’ divinity: the only begotten god then by context, it should have been interpreted in harmony. It could mean other things than “the only true god of the whole universe”. Therefore, its an ambiguous verse having the context of John 1:18.
It could be:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God (in heaven) and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (on earth).
Clearly, nothing is concrete with any of the INC’s defenses of monotheism as fact is, it could be interpreted in a contextual way considering John 1:18’s the only begotten god.
It need logic to do so, for these to be in harmony.
The question is, what if John 1:18 the only begotten god is correct scripture, then the biblical interpretation aforementioned above is correct, or is it?
This is how they tried to refute it:
JOHN 1:18 TRANSLATIONS
1. EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS
Even Ignatius(35-110AD) who believe that Jesus is a God and Tertullian(160-220AD) who believes in Trinity used the term “ONLY BEGOTTEN SON”, because that is the ONLY translation they have during their time. If there is “ONLY BEGOTTEN GOD” translation during that time, I’m sure they would not give a second thought using that translation, for that “ONLY BEGOTEN GOD” translation will promote their doctrine. But there is “ONLY BEGOTTEN SON” translation during that time.
“only begotten Son”(Ignatius Bishop of Antioch; Syria Philippians II; ca. 110)
“only begotten Son”(Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons Gaul; Against Heresies III, 11.6 ; ca. 180)
“only begotten Son”( (Clement Alexandria; Pedagogue I, 3; ca. 200)
“only begotten Son”, “The Son alone knows the Father, and has Himself unfolded the Father’s bosom.” (Tertullian Africa; Against Praxeas VIII; ca. 212)
Granting that this is correct, doubt would still arise bec there are uncertainties whether Ignatius, Irenaeus, clement etc… had with them all existing manuscripts or if all of these had been translated then as conclusive basis to say, there was never a manuscript then that say, the only begotten god bec they have all manuscripts with them and translated as reference materials. But did they have all manuscripts as confirmatory?
Did they have all existing manuscripts as validating that indeed there is no the only begotten god in any of the manuscripts?
Therefore they must have used only what was available was to them during that time and was deprived of really authentic scripture–the john 1:18’s monogenes theos.
Fact is, the lack of confirmation of integral possession of all manuscript has weakened such opposition thereby strengthening the reality of Jesus deity by the fact that some manuscripts of John regarded him as the only begotten god.